China Is Pursuing Unmanned Tactical Aircraft

By Tiron, Roxana | National Defense, May 2004 | Go to article overview
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China Is Pursuing Unmanned Tactical Aircraft


Tiron, Roxana, National Defense


China has been quietly at work pursuing unmanned aircraft technologies both domestically and from foreign partners. It also is marketing its drones to friendly nations in Asia and Africa, accord-ing to a Chinese industry official.

"It is the trend of customers in the world to have reconnaissance, intelligence and long endurance" unmanned systems, said Yang Ying, the vice president of the China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corporation.

Only recently did the Chinese Army receive a series of reconnaissance UAVs produced by CATIC, said Ying, who spoke to National Defense at the Asian Aerospace 2004 in Singapore.

A system called the ASN-105B is designed to penetrate the battlefield to perform real-time surveillance and intelligence collection. The vehicle is operated by remote control from a ground control station.

The navigation system is based on GPS (Global Positioning System). The UAV is launched by rocket boost and lands with a parachute.

ASN-105B has a wingspan of 5 meters and can carry a payload of up to 40 kg at a maxi-mum speed of 200 km an hour. Its endurance is seven hours and it can cover up to 150 km.

An ASN-105 system is made up of six air vehicles, one main ground control station, a mobile ground control station, a photo processing shelter, a TV/infrared image interpreting shelter and a launcher.

Another system developed several years ago, the ASN-206, can perform day and night aerial reconnaissance, battlefield surveillance, target positioning and artillery shooting adjustment. The Chinese use it for border patrol, nuclear radiation survey and sample, aerial photography and disaster surveillance.

The ASN-206 has a wingspan of 6 meters and can carry a payload up to 50 km. It can travel up to 210 km per hour at heights of 6,000 meters. It can endure operations up to eight hours and cover a range of 150 km.

Mission equipment includes low light-level camera, infrared line scanner, airborne video recorder and laser altimeter. The ASN-206 system consists of one air vehicle, a power plant and a launch-and-recovery system.

The Chinese military has operated a light UAV system and a target drone for the past 10 years, both produced by CATIC, said Ying.

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